Updated: Sep 18
As you should already know, photography is a significant marketing element used within the real estate industry to showcase homes available for sale on the market. That said, real estate photography is very different from other forms of photography, as photographers must deal with challenges caused by variations in lighting. Therefore, professional photographers today use HDR and Flambient techniques to counteract these difficulties.
What is HDR Photography?
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a technique that aims to add more "Dynamic range of light" to photographs. Instead of just taking one photo, HDR usually takes 3 to 5 images (known as bracketing) of the same scene. Generally speaking, a photographer will take a very dark exposure, a standard room exposure, and a very bright photo to obtain all the necessary Light and pixel information. Then, graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are required to blend these exposures in the "Post-processing" phase.
HDR can struggle to get the correct colors. When you Bracket various exposures for an HDR photo, you not only get a blend of multiple white balances, but the processing can toss in a color shift from working throughout the dynamic range. Your photos will not look realistic unless you have an HDR Super Star photographer and editor (you don't see many).
HDR can produce unrealistic results, especially from outside views. This is primarily due to the HDR processing software, which has to make assumptions about where shadows and various exposures lie through the frame. If you've ever seen an interior photo with strange shadows or halos around window frames, or shadows on the window frame that looked dirty, then that was likely an HDR image.
Final HDR Image
It is a good photo, but what about the white balance and color distortion? Whites should always look white! Warm light fixtures = Orange walls, and Cold Windows = blue/purplish walls.
What is Flambient Photography?
The Flambient technique combines ambient shots with flashed-light shots to bring forth a final photo with a natural feel of the room and its colors. Unlike HDR, Flambient speaks more authentic to the paint colors and will provide potential home buyers/renters with an accurate representation of each room. Flash light controls all the HDR light sources by becoming the dominant light source. Having flashed lighting as the chief light source maintains the white balance and subsequent colors. This overcomes a significant shortcoming of HDR photography, where each ambient shot will vary widely, creating somewhat surreal colors in walls, ceilings, and cabinets.
A flashed photo is not a final product. It only serves to illuminate the room enough to get the correct colors and avoid harsh glare. We then add the ambient shot layer that will show the natural balance of light, and when we combine these 2, we can create what is known as Flambient. Each of these sessions usually takes up to 60-90 minutes, just an additional 15-30 minutes extra from HDR sessions; fascinating!
Flambient sample images below of the same scene at a very similar angle (Photographers can compose differently)
Ambient shot on the left: We only use the ambient photo to bring a natural feel to the room in that final image created in post-processing. The Ambient light in photoshop will help us get all the brightness and shadows needed for an accurate room representation.
Flashed shots on the right: Flash will reveal the room's true colors. We control the interior lighting with flash, avoiding those strange Blueish/Orangish shadows or halos around window frames that HDR brackets can create.
Flambient final photo:
Final product: Just the perfect balance. Does it look like a magazine photo? This is Flambient photography. Look at the whites; they all look white now!
How expensive is Flambient compared to HDR?
Both real estate photography techniques are relatively the same in cost. Still, when it comes to quality, the difference is clear. When you hire a Flambient photographer, you can rest assured that you hire a high-end professional. In addition, home Buyers (and others viewing your listing) use sophisticated devices nowadays, so high-res, high-quality images stand out from those taken using shortcut methods (like HDR).
Why is HDR more common than Flambient?
HDR can be done by individuals with little to no photography skills, making it more accessible for beginner photographers and Nationwide companies seeking an easy-to-train platform. HDR is also much faster, allowing for concise sessions. Not everybody can do Flambient, and this highly skilled method is one of the fastest-growing photography techniques in Real Estate today. Don't forget that photography is all about capturing the different light sources and how well you can represent them. Because of this and the Real Estate photography industry being so competitive, Professional photographers have raised the bar and developed modern techniques (such as Flambient) that will WOW buyers and sellers. Remember that this type of photography will require more time on-site, so plan the session accordingly.
If you have any other questions, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal is to inform Real Estate professionals/FSBO/Developers/Property Management & Commercial businesses with helpful content and Property photography insights.
Thank you for your interest in this fascinating Real Estate photography world!
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The Bird Solutions Team